conditions change, because age and sex distribution patterns, as well as population density, create a continuously changing matrix for policy.
RECOMMENDATION THREE: SHORT-TERM GROWTH RATE, DEATH RATE, AND BIRTH RATE GOALS.
First: We urge that countries in which rapid population growth is now occurring seek to reduce their rates of natural increase to less than 15 per 1,000 per year over the next 2 decades. Relatively low-fertility countries that are already growing more slowly than this should seek to approach more closely a stationary population level over the next 20 years.
Second: We urge that in high-mortality countries, modernization policies sufficient to accomplish a reduction in fertility be accompanied by policies of equivalent priority in order to reduce death rates to less than 10-15 per 1,000 per year.
Third: We urge that high-fertility countries set as a goal of population policy the reduction of birth rates within the next 2 decades to less than 25-30 live births per 1,000 people per year.
What constitutes a rational fertility level will obviously vary with circumstances, but we urge that significant limits can and should be identified. Thus it seems to us that there are clear disadvantages of a national birth rate above 30 live births per 1,000 people per year. The weight of evidence and rational presumption concerning socioeconomic consequences strongly favors a birth rate of 25 or less over one of 35 or higher. It is unquestionably desirable for the welfare of children and mothers to reduce the number of children ever born in the average family to a much lower level than the range of six or more that now exists in many countries.
Within the proposed limits on birth rates, individual societies and nations would find ample room for specific policies of fertility reduction that meet their criteria of cultural self-determination and socioeconomic prudence.
As death rates are brought below 10-15 per 1,000 in present high-fertility, high-mortality countries, birth rates should be correspondingly reduced. For present low-fertility countries., the recommendation implies an effort to approach a "replacement level" of fertility.
The magnitude of the policy challenge underlying the attainment of the above proposed limits on fertility is extraordinary. For the large majority of the world's population and for nearly all less developed nations, a drop in the birth rate below 25-30 per 1,000 per year would represent a historic break with the past and would be spectacular if accomplished within 1 or 2 decades. Demographically, the fertility targets being urged here represent a call to revolutionary demographic transition, moderated by a precautionary regard for cultural pluralism, and by a generous allowance for different socio-economic welfare goals in different parts of the world.